• necrocopia: original uk doom in memoriam  (CD, £9.95)

    label: Audio Archives

    "Hello, what's this fusion of Greek and Latin? Abundance of death? Translated further as 'Original UK Doom In Memoriam'. Well, the bands might have long gone but their presence is still very much with us, and we should be thankful to Audio Archives for producing such a high quality CD that helps expand our knowledge of music, culture, society and what happens when Hammer horror turns musical (and I ain't talking no Black Sabbath here, although they are pertinent to the mix, just like Black Widow, sort of). What we have are 12 bands over 13 tracks playing various degrees of heavy rock from the early 70s, with most of the tracks weighing in at 5 to 8 minutes, the CD lasting over 75 minutes. And once you hear it you will know that you've got good value for money, not only musically but in the very informative fold-out sleeve with notes on all the bands, rare pics, and suitably dark artwork. But what of the music? Zior kick off the compilation, sounding like a bunch of intoxicated Native American Indians undergoing some wayward ritual at a heavy tepee dance. Short and sweet, it should please the Devil. Then things get heavier still, with Iron Claw throbbing along like a huge reptile, driving bass and drums underpinning no-nonsense axework for over seven minutes. This is fine in-yer-face rock and interestingly, after forty-odd years, the band recently recorded their second album and it's just as powerful as their first maybe more so. Such a welcome contrast to the usual mellow middle-aged offerings of most rock bands. But back to the present: Flying Hat Band. As the Devil grabbed the first track, the Good Lord takes third place with this pre-Judas Priest Glenn Tipton band that rocks along at a fair old pace for over six minutes, and shows why GT was an emerging force. The fourth track is a shift down the gears to something lighter, both musically and lyrically. Wooden Lion use engaging guitar work over a foot-tapping beat to facilitate calm before South London's Stallion, featuring two South African guitarists, balance the light and the dark in a manner that suggests they know what to do and how to do it. Which is as it should be considering the entire band were once part of Warlord (see below) before they stole his horse and became themselves. Naturally this track is followed by Horse, and a theatrical offering entitled 'The Sacrifice', featuring Hammer horror style lyrics against a backdrop of ye olde black magic, all infused with guitar-bred tension. Track seven now: Warlord. Another bunch of Londoners bashing out a doomful concoction, this time with a tormented soul on vocals. The Stallion trio keep it together as presumably the warlord himself vents his spleen. Next up, The Iron Maiden commence with more dark stuff but paradoxically with a lighter feel before giving way to guitar work that skips effortlessly along the surface, promising jazzier things to come but instead settling for jam session acid rock guitar overlay that is surprisingly relaxing. Then the lyrics kick back in, the guitar ups the ante, and we're increasing speed, the rhythm section moving up a gear until more lyrics slow us down to a smooth landing. But before long a quick build-up from Necromandus leaves us cruising on auto-pilot as we hear about a black solitude interspersed with guitar jolt and melodic pleasantries. Finally, Wooden Lion again, who eventually give rise to yet more suitably doomful lyrics with a lightweight musical accompaniment that meanders about like a lost soul, or perhaps a depressed hero. Did I say finally? I did, but it isn't the end, any more than the demise of these bands was the end of them, because it can't be, I'm listening to them. They are still around. Just like the next three bands with their live bonus tracks. Three-Headed Dog for instance, blasting away noisily in a Birmingham boozer in 1973, before finally getting into a stable orbit that rattles along catchily like a faithful three-legged dog. Then we have Egor, who could give Iron Claw a run for their money. Another boozer, this time in Leytonstone, London, but now it's 1970 and for the time this band must have sounded awesome with or without a skinful of beer. Weird noises start the track, followed by brain-mashing guitar, and we're off! The guitarist slams it hard out front over a rhythm section that included bass player Mike Foster who went on to join T2. The vocalist swallows the mike, the guitarist utilizes nitro-burn, the drummer and bassist turn piledriver, and phew, nearly eight minutes of thunderous bliss. Which leads me to the final track, the magical number 13, and Night-Angel. Acutely (a)live, this London trio whip the '74 Windsor Festival into a frenzy with cracking drums (just listen to the audience on the drum breaks), unswerving bass, and guitar work hard to categorize. Proto punk industrial doom, or simply heavy rock with an unusual slant? Buy this CD and decide for yourself, because I played bass with N-A so I'm totally biased. But you should be buying this CD anyway, because it's bloody good." - Review by PAUL PINN.

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